Away win for 'Loo at Preston
Opportunities for all and a good win against a solid 'Hoppers.
I couldn't help but steal a few nervous glances at the powerful and numerous Preston squad during the warm up, would the 'Loo boys be up for this contest having journeyed up the M6 on this bitingly cold morning?
The first few moments didn't really answer the question and we looked set for a midfield scrap as the ball was stuck in a channel 20 metres either side of the halfway line, an arm wrestle looked to be the order of the day until Ewan stole a line out and bust through several tackles before being felled just short of the try line, Lloyd was on hand to pick and go the last metre for the score which was superbly converted by Dan with an elegant swing of the right boot, making the difficult look effortless.
This triggered a flurry of tries, next up a scrum was secured at the base of the posts, Austen fired a lovely pass and the ball was moved to Alfie to go over, another conversion 14-0. A familiar pattern began to emerge as Ewan accepted another line out ball dropping nicely for him, the ball was moved delightfully right then left across the park until Will and Joe mesmerised the defenders with fantastic balletic movement and great hands, Will finally going over...a second pattern emerged as Dan converted again. 21-0.
It was great to see lads taking responsibility and stepping up as required because the Preston lads were not going to roll over. George fought manfully all game, breaking up attacks and forcing turnovers, Joe has added a meaty hand off and power to go with his raw pace and bashed away at the Hoppers defence, always giving them something to think about and lads were given opportunities in unfamiliar positions, including Harry Murphy who scored from centre after a move left and right across the park.
Like buses, line out steals must come along in threes, another gift from the gods was accepted and the ball was fed to Austen who went over on the right for a 31-0 half time lead. Preston were no doubt fired up for the second half and 'Loo were forced to defend manfully for a period deep in their own half. It must have been a hammer blow for the determined Prestonians when a clearing kick was well won by Alfie, fed to Joe and he streaked away to score from 60 metres out.
It was great to see all the boys who had made the journey get plenty of game time, especially pleasing to see the likes of Callum and Austen who have suffered injuries being heavily involved and influential. Ben Rowan demonstrated his commitment, breaking loose and thundering forward, he was brought down just short and as he reached for the line the ball agonisingly trickled forward, unlucky Ben but an important contribution.
The final score came from the most productive route of the day...another line out. This time the ball was worked right to Will who also showed he is getting back to his best following injury, going through the gears and over on the right. It could be argued however that Wills greatest contribution on the day was in defence, several important tackles were exemplified by a try saving effort which stopped the powerful and pacy Preston centre who looked like breaking through the Loo defence when the result was still in the balance.
All in all a great morning, a good place to visit with the junior pitches set amongst the trees and a fantastic new 4G main pitch surrounded by advertising along with great clubhouse facilities, all of which set Hoppers up to be one of the Norths premier clubs. Good rugby, fantastic hospitality and a match played in the best of spirits all helped to result in a great day out.
Full Time 43-0 to Waterloo.